Takeaways from WEEF & GEDC 2020

Members of the Siemens Global Academic Partner Program team attended the recent World Engineering Education Forum (WEEF) and Global Engineering Deans Conference (GEDC).  Organized by the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFFES), the event brought together industry thought leaders, educators and students. Although it was originally scheduled to take place in South Africa, it was moved online due to COVID-19.

The virtual event garnered international participation among researchers, students and governmental organizations. Joined by colleagues from Siemens South Africa, the team had the opportunity to hear from a diverse group of organizations about how they have adapted throughout this tumultuous year.  The theme of the conference was “Disruptive Engineering Education Amidst Global Challenges,” where themes of diversity, sustainability and bridging the educational divide were discussed from an international perspective in context with the changes brought forth by the pandemic.

Siemens supported the 2020 GEDC Diversity Award to Dr. Bill Oakes, professor of Engineering Education and director of the EPICS program at Purdue University . EPICS is a service-learning design program in which teams of students’ partner with local and global community organizations to address human, community, and environmental needs. The program was founded at Purdue in 1995 and has since spread to a diverse group of universities around the world, as well as expanded to several k12 programs.

Dora Smith, Global Director of the Academic Partner Program at Siemens spoke about the award saying, “We were honored to support the 2020 GEDC Diversity Award. At Siemens we’re committed to empowering the next generation of diverse digital talent. We know that diversity is a business imperative and competitive advantage. It drives more innovation in our workforce and in the technology we develop. We congratulate Dr. Bill Oaks and the Purdue EPICS program for increasing diversity in the talent pipeline of future engineers.”

Dr. Oaks noted in accepting the award that “we’ve got an opportunity to be a global great generation. The current students … can really change the world for the better.”

Along with the Diversity Award, there were many impactful presentations that touched on how students, educators and the broader engineering industry have adapted to the changing pandemic environment. From attending webinars about evolving engineering curriculum to support the needs of a fast-changing global workforce to student support through the partnership between business and academia–there is no shortage of innovation throughout the industry­­.  The switch to distance learning has accelerated the need for industry collaboration, to help bolster engineering education that can be useful even as software programs change and evolve. Although a lot of universities already had a hybrid learning setup in place–COVID-19 has shifted everything online and forced universities to move their curriculum years into the future within a matter of months.  

Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa presented on Advancing Digital Skills in Africa along with Tommie Chambers who demonstrated Digital Twins for Education and Dora Smith on empowering the next generation of digital talent through Academia 4.0.Expanding more on this important partnership Dora Smith said, “The WEEF GEDC event is a unique gathering of engineering education leaders – both students and educators. We were honored to participate and  provide key takeaways to help them in their journey to Academia 4.0, including

the new Tech Clarity skills gap ebook, Innovation in the Classroom podcast, as well as the ASEE Industry 4.0 Workforce Summit webinar series and ebook.” 

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